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Dark cloud in Scorpius
No light shines from the dark regions shown in the picture on the left. This might lead you to think nothing actually exists there. Yet in those seemingly dark regions between the stars exist giant gas and dust clouds full of molecules that emit radiation in the form of radio waves. Such radiation, while invisible to our eyes, is easily detected by the BIMA array. By using the BIMA array, astronomers can not only detect molecules but also "see" into the giant clouds that contain them.

JPEG Image (65K); Credits and Copyrights

Lifting the Veil

Sensitive to millimeter radiation, the BIMA array enables astronomers to observe how molecules form and behave in giant gas clouds such as the one in this picture.

Some of these molecules are similar to the ones from which life on Earth may have evolved. By studying molecular evolution in space, astronomers aim to understand not only life's possible origins, but also how stars form and die, and how starbirth can shape the evolution of galaxies.

Looking Through Many Windows

Optical, infrared, X ray and other radiotelescopes provide alternative windows onto the universe, each revealing distinct information.

By combining observations from the BIMA array with those from other types of telescopes, astronomers gain a more complete information about chemistry in space, star formation, and galactic evolution.

The BIMA Array: Today and Beyond
Computers: The Image Forming Elements
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NCSA. Last modified 1/9/96